Gamble Everything for Love


FaithI’ve been thinking lately about Faith – an almost passé notion in this high-speed, high-tech, temperature-controlled world of ours, and how paradoxically it’s exactly because we can now control so much, that we need to nurture our faith more than ever before.

Modern media talks about faith as though something from the Olden Days, when we were naïve and uneducated, still dancing around the May Pole – a relic from a time where we still needed priests, religion, and old wives tales to tell us right from wrong.

And now, where we can, and do manipulate just about everything from the food we grow to the genes of the child we want to bear, faith seems all a bit old-school. But as hard as we try to resist the fact, we are still completely out of control. Just like we always were. The wheel of samsara spins effortlessly around the finger of the Goddess and we Her mortal subjects are still born, and die, according to Her will.

While the developments of science are extraordinary – keyhole heart surgery for teeny tiny babies, IVF, in-utero detection of possible birth defects in a grapefruit-sized foetus, transplants, transfusions and all the rest, still, man and his science remain limited. A normally infertile couple can be assisted to have children, but the fate of that child absolutely no one can predict or control.

Where science ends, faith begins. Faith’s greatest hour is the one in which “love becomes impossible and the heart has turned to stone” (Thomas Merton). When logic and reason have run out of arguments and the statistics are not on our side. When my will is exhausted and there’s nothing left to lose, faith suddenly comes back into vogue.

In just the last week I’ve heard 3 different stories from beautiful friends about the births of their children. None went quite to plan. And all reported reaching the absolute limit of their human capacity, before finding the faith to do what was needed.

One said, “I got to the point in my labour where I knew I couldn’t do it – the intensity was just too much. And then I heard my guru’s voice in my ear say, ‘Of course you can’t do it, but Love can. Get out of the way and let Love do the impossible.’ From that moment on it all made sense. I let go and allowed for the force of Love itself to deliver my child.”

Another a new mother of very premature twins, told me that at just around the time that she could finally take her girls home (after nearly 3months in hospital), one of them became dangerously and unexplainably ill. Desperate, exhausted, and fast losing faith, a psychic friend told her, “She (your daughter) is still completely bonded with you and she’s feeling whatever you are. You need to get it together. If you can stay strong, calm and focused, she will recover”.

And so she did. For another whole day at least, she watched her daughter’s impossibly tiny frame shake and convulse with fever, but she remained steady. Medical science had no clue, but a mother’s love transcended all fear. She found the strength and the faith that pulled her daughter back to life.

The third story is less about what needed doing, and more about letting go. This friend is an accomplished Yoga teacher who’d done all the right things, and felt amazing leading up to her son’s birth. She had hoped and prepared for a natural water birth with minimal intervention. Instead she had a 3-day labour culminating in a C-section under total anaesthesia, unable to pull her newborn baby up to her breast as she’d imagined herself doing so many times.

Faith for this friend, has meant letting go. Letting go of her script, and surrendering to what actually unfolded. Trusting that whatever happened could have been no other way – the perfect entrance for the strawberry-blonde boy who now runs around her feet with boundless energy and curiosity for life.

The Sanskrit word for faith is shraddha. And maybe because it’s such an unpopular concept these days it was first translated to me as, ‘the willingness to try’. The willingness to investigate the unseen and unknown, and to trust in the wise who suggest a different way. To gamble everything for love, with no guarantee, because we suspect that things might just work out for the better.

Love asks us to risk something – to let something go, with no guarantee that our efforts will bear fruit. And this to me is true faith, the willingness to try often contrary to popular opinion, contrary to scientific evidence, and contrary to the fears that would have us give up.

Faith for me is inseparable from surrender. They go hand in hand. Without faith we cannot surrender, and without surrender faith remains mere lip service. At the end of the day faith is a choice – to align ourselves with our deepest instincts and highest aspirations. Ultimately it’s a choice to trust in Reality, free from or despite our fear.

Did we do it right? Are we making a mistake? Are we gambling too much?

Who knows? And who cares?! Are we getting freer? Lighter? Looser? More loving? These should be the questions. Faith begets faith. Trust begets trust. But we’ll never know unless we try.

“Science is by experiment first and experience later; whereas in gyana (wisdom) belief comes first and experience later.”   ~ Sri Sakthi Amma

Om Namo Narayani